Coke, Target Reveal See-Thru Marketing

Two videos seen this week for marketers Coca-Cola and Target have kicked the concept of corporate transparency to the next level.

Having spent the last decade and more shopping for designers like Philippe Starck and Michael Graves, the new Target video reveals the company has gone micro-niche, picking up edgy trendsmart shops from Miami to SF—and plugging these mini boxes inside the larger Target retail box.

The video gives us snapshots of Target store’s new “The Shops” boutique concept, and features The Webster from Miami, The Privet House from Warren, Connecticut, Boston’s Polka Dog Bakery, the candy store from SF, and cosmetics boutique The Cos Bar from Charleston, South Carolina. Sound bites of plucky entrepreneurs reveal their dreamsoul and how Target is now bringing “a piece of the boutique experience to Target.”

Despite touting newness, Target is uncharacteristically behind the curve on this concept, which commercial real estate developers have already seized upon to counter shopping mall blandness. Look at Boston’s Newbury Street, Chelsea Market in Manhattan and Santa Monica Place in California.

Nevertheless, Target knows how to do it right. If the concept takes off with consumers, we can look forward to more boutiques, more categories, and more accent in Tar-zhay. It’s also likely that we’ll see less successful boutiques rotating on and off Target retail floors faster than last season’s garments.

As The Privet House’s Suzanne declares in the video, “Watch what you ask for when you want your hobby to become your living!”

The Coke videos (there are two of them: Video One and Video Two) which can be seen on YouTube reveal Coke’s new comprehensive “liquid” marketing strategy. With splashes of Henry Jenkins’ spreadable media concept, experiential marketing, Sir Ken Robinson’s whiteboard execution and Coke’s sophisticated marketing aplomb, the videos take us on a discovery that is as startling as it is revelatory.

While other companies are covering off on some (or much) of the thinking Coke lays out for viewers, Coke shows what happens when—with one of the world’s largest marketing budgets—you can do it all.

What is most surprising during the nearly eighteen viewing minutes is how willfully the soft drink marketer peels back the layers of their organization to reveal what’s been working and what hasn’t. As Jonathan Mildenhall, Vice-President, Global Advertising Strategy and Creative Excellence at The Coca-Cola Company exclaims how the soft drink marketer will transform “one-way storytelling into dynamic storytelling” and “from consumer insights to provocations” thus potentially adding value and significance to people’s lives, he also reveals the positioning architecture for all products and other information that (even in our WikiLeaks world) is usually left behind the corporate firewall. Suddenly, it’s all chunked down for everyone to see, including consumers.

What is most resonant about these videos is how both Target and Coke have once more claimed innovative category leadership—a challenge both companies always rise to. And the see-thru character of their narratives demonstrates just how far storytelling can go.